Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Easy Clicker Training Guide

In this weekly video episode we are going to begin clicker training. Messages between human and dog aren’t always easily communicated to each other. The tone of your voice changes depending what mood you’re in and the consistency of your praise to your dog isn’t always the same. Meaning in training when you are trying to praise the dog for doing a certain trick it may not be easy for the dog to know exactly what it did correctly.
That is where the clicker can come into play.

The clicker is a controlled noise. It is the same exact noise every time. In order for the clicker to work the dog must associate the noise of the clicker to the action that is wanted. The click lets the dog know at that exact moment he did exact what you wanted him or her to do. After the click he will know that he is to receive a treat so you don’t have to worry about quickly giving him the treat right after the action was done.
To do this we are going to train the dog to associate after he hears a click he receives a treat and praise.

The clicker I have is from Petsmart and I got it from the register counter for about $1-$2. I also use Bueller’s food because he is not freefed. You can use your pet’s normal food or small yummy treats. What I am doing is making Bueller work for his day’s food by training him and believe me he loves training! It’s a fun time for us to bond together instead of him eating his daily meal in a bowl by himself. Be careful if you are using treats to not give too many that may make your dog overweight or overfeed him for that day. Ideally use the pet’s food. 

To begin: Teach the dog that after he hears a click he receives a treat! -Click treat- -Click treat-. This is called charging the clicker.
Do not click and give a treat at the same time. CLICK then treat.

Once the dog associates that he will receive a treat after the click we can begin asking the dog to perform certain actions after hearing the click. Remember you MUST ALWAYS give a reward after a click otherwise the clicker has no meaning to the dog and he won’t have motivation to do anything. It’s kind of like students getting candy for the right answer!
Your dog now knows it will get a treat when he hears a click. There are two options I tend to use now for beginners. Either wait for the dog to perform the action you want. Or let the treat guide the dog. We are going to teach sit so to guide the dog into the action slowly back the dog up until a sit. When he sits click. Repeat. Do it again and begin to add the word sit.

RIGHT when the action happens and is complete you click and give a treat.

Repeat a few times so the dog fully understands which action was done in order to hear a click.

Get the dog to decide themselves. Being patient that is key. The dog will have to figure it out and think on it’s own to figure out the answer which will make the dog more engaged and easier to teach.

The dog will realize that you are waiting for an action and will try to figure it out what action you want to hear a click and receive a click.

Now we are going to teach lay. You can guide the nose of the dog down to a lay from the sit. Or wait until the dog does the action. Once the dog lays click give treat. Once learned add a verbal and visual command. 

Once the dog knows the command you can remove the treat and clicker. Reward with verbal praise (as always) and lots of play time!

© Faris Jaclyn I Littlest Pet Shop Photography

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